Dispatched just after 1 AM to a report of a person in the water, we are the first engine at the scene. Responding behind us are the truck company, ambulance, chief and paramedic supervisor as well as our heavy rescue units. The heavy rescue units are specially trained swimmers and divers but are at least 10 minutes behind us.
We spot her clinging to a thin cable, 15 feet below us along the dock about 10 feet from a large party boat.
Police have arrived and are moving a gang plank to the boat to gain access to the water level. We’ve deployed a flotation device but the victim is either too tired or too confused to grab onto it. Using ladders and hooks we are unable to reach the victim, despite multiple attempts. the water is cold and dangerous for those of us not properly trained or equipped.
We are able to arrange a staging area on the boat to remove the wet clothes and assess injury just as the heavy rescue team arrives, fully wetsuited and ready to work.
They are quick to the water and work safely and efficiently, attaching a rescue device and removing the victim from the water almost without visible effort. They made it look like nothing.
A tip of the helmet to those of you who were involved in the like clockwork water rescue. You delivered me a patient from a place I could not go.
And that’s where the praise ends and your letter begins.
When you removed the victim from the water, you were directed to the awaiting backboard and blankets so I and the awaiting ambulance crew to begin our assessment.
The victim was placed on the board and the straps tightened despite our requests to the contrary. Everyone began shouting to get her off the boat quickly and into the awaiting ambulance.
We asked you to wait. Your part was down, it was time for us to do our thing.
But despite our requests there were more of you than us and away you carried the wet, dripping, cold victim to the ambulance where the wet clothes saturated the floor making working dangerous.
3 minutes it took to get her up the narrow stairs, gangplank and across the parking lot on the pier. All that time the medics are hustling to complete an airway assessment.
Luckily the victim’s airway and major vitals are intact, but she is cold. We removed the clothes and try to contain the amount of water coming from the cot, but there is no stopping the flow from the many layers.
You are experts at what you do. I know that, you know that. You proved it putting yourself into a situation I would not.
Please let me do my job. I didn’t tell you how to get into the water or what to do when you got there, please let me do what I am trained to do.
You get them, I treat them.
That is all.